The Texans come to Washington for only the fifth time in the franchise's history on Week 11, as the Redskins look for their first win against Houston since 2006 at FedExField.
Houston Key Additions: Signed S/CB Tyrann Mathieu, CB Aaron Colvin, G Zach Fulton, S Johnson Bademosi, G Senio Kelemete, OT Seantrel Henderson, QB Joe Webb, QB Brandon Weeden
Houston Key Subtractions: S Marcus Gilchrist, G Xavier Su'a-Filo, QB Tom Savage, CB Marcus Williams, RB Alfred Blue
After a playoff appearance in 2016, winning became a struggle for Houston last season. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson showed promise in his first NFL season, but suffered a torn ACL that sidelined him for the remainder of 2017. The Texans finished the year with a 1-7 record without him, only scoring 13.6 points per game during that stretch.
While Houston's needs this offseason were on offense, its front office made its most important moves on defense. The biggest free agency signing for the Texans this offseason was the addition of defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
Mathieu was asked to take a pay cut with Arizona, but he refused and the Cardinals released him to make him a free agent. With the six-year veteran now in the fold, the Texans now have one of the most dominating defensive backs in the NFL. Having 308 total tackles and 41 passes defensed in just five seasons, Mathieu will have an immediate impact on Houston's defense.
The addition of former Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Colvin also helps improve the Texans secondary. Not only has the fifth-year defensive back combined for 167 total tackles in 48 total games, his contributions helped the Jaguars give up the fewest passing yards per game in the NFL. Colvin's assistance on a smothering pass defense put Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game last year for the first time since the 1999 season.
Despite not having a first or second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Texans chose a safety that could be a potential game changer for the defense. Selecting former Stanford safety Justin Reid in the third round, Houston is looking for him to improve a passing defense that ranked 24th in yards per game in 2017.
Houston's main concern is protecting Watson. In order to improve their offensive line, the Texans signed Zach Fulton, Seantrel Henderson, and Senio Kelemete. Fulton protected current Redskins' quarterback Alex Smith while playing for Kansas City, which allowed Smith to become the 2017 NFL passer rating leader and make his third Pro Bowl appearance.
Henderson's blocking put the Saints in the Top-5 in rushing yards per game and allowed the running backs group to produce over 2,000 rushing yards in 2017. Kelemete's role on the offensive line allowed the Bills to finish in the Top 10 in rushing yards with over 2,000 and average 126.1 rushing yards per game last season.
Houston also added depth up front when they selected former Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin in the third round of the draft. The 2017 first-team All-SEC selection showed that he has active feet in the run game and that he can bring strength to the table, bench pressing 225 pounds 24 times at the NFL Combine.
Last season was a year of recovery for the Texans. Not only did Houston lose Watson for the remainder of the season, star defensive end J.J. Watt was also unavailable after sustaining a tibial plateau fracture following Week 5.
The Texans never fully recovered from the losses of their two stars. If they can stay healthy, however, Houston could give the Redskins a classic game before Washington heads to Dallas for Thanksgiving.